The Yankees and Blue Jays played a back-and-forth game with plenty of offense on Saturday, with the Yankees unfortunately coming up just short. While their pitching struggled, it was primarily the pitchers expected to spend 2022 in the minor leagues who did so, and the planned starters on offense showed off their power in a big way.
Michael King was the first pitcher for the Yankees, and he started off the first on a bad foot by walking Cavan Biggio and hitting Bo Bichette with a pitch. But Vladimir Guerrero Jr. hit into a double play and Lourdes Gurriel Jr. lined out to shortstop to end the brewing threat.
Blue Jays starting pitcher Alek Manoah debuted last summer and looked like he would be a thorn in the Yankees’ sides for years to come. In the first inning, he appeared to have some issues with the mound, slipping multiple times, and Joey Gallo singled and Giancarlo Stanton walked, but DJ LeMahieu grounded out to third to keep the Yankees off the board. Manoah would settle down, completing 3.1 scoreless innings with three strikeouts.
King also very nearly hit Matt Chapman in the hands or wrist, but the ball went off the knob of his bat. He never really looked sharp, and in the second, right fielder Josh Palacios followed up a Reese McGuire single with a booming two-run home run. A nice play by Josh Donaldson to charge and field a bunt ended the inning. Biggio then started the third inning by ripping a solo home run. King would be pulled at 46 pitches and 2.2 innings pitched.
King was replaced by Lucas Luetge, who fared much better, with 1.1 scoreless innings pitched and two strikeouts. Chad Green followed, who struck out Biggio and then made a nice play to stay with a liner by Bichette after it ricocheted off his leg to narrowly get the out.
Manoah was replaced by Ryan Borucki, and the Yankees would finally get their first run in the fourth inning when Giancarlo Stanton launched one of his specialty moonshots. More of that, please.
Big Blast from Big G pic.twitter.com/b0lxfQSdTO— New York Yankees (@Yankees) March 26, 2022
Former top prospect Nate Pearson, who has seen injuries derail his prognostication of a future ace, came into the game for the Jays in the fifth. He threw a clean inning, albeit with some hard contact.
Pearson came out to start the bottom of the sixth, and Aaron Judge was able to get a double after Toronto’s Gurriel Jr. and Nathan Lukes nearly collided in the outfield and missed the ball. Donaldson followed with an infield single, then Joey Gallo showed off the power the Yankees are hoping to see a lot more of in 2022 to homer and put the Yankees up 4-3. Pearson would also get the first out of the seventh inning.
Joey jacks are back pic.twitter.com/ba8aKtr3Dp— New York Yankees (@Yankees) March 26, 2022
Wandy Peralta threw the top of the sixth inning for the Yankees and labored. Gurriel Jr. and Chapman singled, then the runners advanced on a balk. But he also showed his stuff, striking out the side, all swinging, to keep any runs from scoring. He threw 28 pitches.
Right-hander Vinny Nittoli followed for the Yankees, who threw one Major League inning last season with the Seattle Mariners. The 31-year-old only made it through 0.2 innings and gave up the lead after loading the bases (part of which included walking old friend Greg Bird) and allowing a ripped double to well-regarded Jays prospect Orelvis Martinez to score two runs. Nittoli was replaced by Reggie McClain, who spent 2021 with Triple-A Scranton/Wilkes-Barre. An Alejandro Kirk single, a wild pitch, and a McGuire single made it 8-4 Toronto. McClain would be allowed to start the eighth and gave a two-run home run to Bird — 10-4, Birds.
The Yankees didn’t quit, though, and took their own turn against Jeremy Beasley in the bottom of the eighth. Oswaldo Cabrera and Oswald Peraza got hits, then potential back-up catcher Rob Brantly hit a home run to cut Toronto’s lead to three runs. Ender Inciarte singled in another run to make it 10-8.
Miguel Andújar would make things interesting in the bottom of the ninth with a solo home run to cut the lead to only one run, but Brantly ended the game with a double play.
Tomorrow afternoon Gerrit Cole will finally make his first spring training start against the Pittsburgh Pirates. The game will air on YES at 1:05 PM.